02 June 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many staff have had to adapt and change their roles because something more important was needed and had priority. This was true in the case of the Trust's Fire Safety Officers who were pressed into service to deliver Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline staff. Below, Fire Safety Officer John Tindell shares a light-hearted reflection on his exercise regime during the pandemic.

A key recommendation for keeping occupied and to cope during lockdown, has been to maintain or improve one’s fitness, perhaps by adopting a daily exercise regime.  Possibly achieved by running, walking or cycling or even jumping up and down alongside Joe Wicks - anything to offset the massive increase in ones calorific intake during lockdown.  

Physical Workout
Here at ELFT, an alternative exercise regime was recently adopted by members of the Estates and Procurement Teams (alongside other Olympic hopefuls from departments across the Trust).  The activity could be described as a derivative of weightlifting and cage-fighting combined.  It involved the daily repeated movement of weights from one location (e.g. Point A) to another (e.g. Point B) and sometimes even in the same day, movement back to Point A again and so this continued. Both off and into lorries, vans, cars and ambulances, helping us to acquire new skills in dexterity such as navigating doorways without chipping the paintwork. Yes, you've guessed it - the Olympic sport of hefting boxes to locations and staff that need PPE.

A Rare Breed
Whilst engaged in the rigours of this exercise regime, a certain amount of ‘huffing and puffing’ could be detected in the Lesser Spotted Fire Safety Officer. Often accompanied by a bit of sweatiness now and again, occasional scratching (normally of the head) accompanied by occasional expletives (always mild and under the breath), usually when standing upright, leaning backwards with arms akimbo.  David Attenborough will confirm this is a well-known position in the animal world, adopted without using verbal communication, when seeking sympathy from others in the tribe because your back aches!

Who would have thought that face masks could be so heavy. (Actually, they aren’t but uniform and hand gel boxes weigh a ton!).  Becoming an impromptu delivery driver also requires participants to be multi-lingual, be able read hieroglyphics as well as having some well-honed skills in navigation (otherwise you drive around aimlessly all day).

Important Checks!
Prior to leaving for your destination, a number of vehicle checks need to be carried out. Drivers should check for small rectangles of cheese; bars of chocolate (Got to be a Yorkie bar!); biscuits; crisps or an overprovision of mints (though a few of the latter is OK).  Hydration, however, is encouraged especially in light of the hot weather that we have been experiencing in recent weeks. 
Those long hot journeys between London and Bedford can make one very thirsty, though the roads have been really quiet which has made the distances feel that much shorter.  In fact at times, I have to confess, the driving has been surprisingly pleasant - with crisp fresh air; sun shining in a cloudless blue sky; the sound of a lark and other birds twittering etc. (I am well outside Mile End at this point!)
Supporting Colleagues on the Frontline
So there it is, an alternative to your existing training routine should you have the motivation.  Our thanks should go to Mandy and Debbie in the PPE Central depot (who devised the exercise programme – or at least have been the brains behind it) and to all the participants/drivers who are too many to mention individually and you probably won’t recognise them anyway wearing their masks! 
It has been good to play our part in supporting and protecting staff who are carrying out hands-on patient care both in London, and Bedfordshire and Luton. It has been good to meet new colleagues in London and up North!

And some of us, despite the aforementioned cheese, chocolate and crisps, are a bit more muscled and less tubsy than we might have been. So thank you to ELFT for the unconventional workout - and to fellow drivers/Olympians who stepped up to make sure our staff had what they needed. See you in Japan in 2036 (if we are lucky!)